Babywearing Basics: The Soft Structured Carrier

Babywearing Basics: The Soft Structured Carrier

Welcome back to my Babywearing Basics series! If you’re joining us for the first time, you can catch the rest of the series HERE.

If I could tell you to get one carrier that would satisfy all of your baby wearing needs, it would be a soft structured carrier. There are many different brands on the market, but the most popular seems to be the Ergobaby– that’s what I have been using since Halle was very small, and I absolutely love it. Not only that, but my husband loves it, too! Other brands include the Baby Bjorn, Lillebaby, Stokke, and Infantino.

Babywearing Basics: Soft Structured Carriers
Babywearing Mommy Jamie with son, Dallas

A soft structured carrier is just like it sounds- while it is made of soft, padded material, it also has a basic form- almost like a backpack-type of feel. There is pretty much one way to wear the baby in the carrier (though it can go on your back, or even hip in some cases), and the baby has one position. However, these carriers are very user-friendly, very secure, and quickly become the go-to carrier for many moms!

Babywearing Basics: Soft Structured Carriers
Reader Amanda with her adorable sons, Lincoln and Lawson

For example, my baby is in my Ergo carrier right now as I type. We woke up later than normal this morning, and because I was eager to get started with my day, I grabbed the Ergo and had the baby on my chest in just a few seconds. Quick, easy, secure. She is fast asleep and has been for about an hour!

PROS

  • Can carry children from birth through preschool
  • Can perform front, hip, and back carries
  • Great for daddies or those less enthusiastic about baby wearing
  • Easily adjusts and transfers to another caregiver
  • Feels very secure- straps and buckles instead of wraps and knots
  • Comfortable- distributes weight well between both shoulders and back
  • Top choice for hiking or other activities
  • Comes in a variety of colors, including organic cotton options

CONS

  • Some require a separate insert to use when baby is under 12 pounds
  • Can be bulky, especially with insert
  • Doesn’t travel neatly- lots of straps and padding- takes up a whole diaper bag!
  • Hard to be seated in- I find I have to stand with her in this carrier
  • Can be an awkward ‘transition period’ between when baby likes legs froggied and when they are ready to spread across mom’s belly
  • Some carriers that allow forward facing options put children at risk for hip dysplasia
Babywearing Basics: Soft Structured Carriers
Babywearing Mama Sara displaying a proper forward-facing carrier
Babywearing Basics: Soft Structured Carriers
Babywearing Daddy, Dave, with daughter Aria
Babywearing Basics: Soft Structured Carriers
Babywearing Daddy Brandon with daughter Autumn

 

Babywearing Basics: The Stretchy Wrap

Babywearing Basics | Stretchy Wraps

Welcome back to my Babywearing Basics series! If you’re joining us for the first time, you can catch the rest of the series HERE.

Today we are talking about stretchy wraps! While I don’t use this carrier all that much anymore, I really loved it when Hallelujah was little. The soft, stretchy material is great for snuggling a little newborn down into a pocket- it’s very soothing for the baby, and easy for you, too! I particularly loved wearing Halle in the Moby Wrap around the house and at church when she was little. She would fall right to sleep and I could enjoy the service or relax around the house!

A stretchy wrap is just like it sounds- a very long piece of stretchy, soft material that wraps around your body and creates a pocket for the baby. There are several different popular brands: Moby Wrap, Boba Wrap, and Infantino Sync are probably the most popular.

For those overwhelmed by the fabric and wrapping aspect, the Baby K’Tan is a great alternative, offering many of the benefits of a stretchy wrap, but comes already formed and sized to your needs. I know several people that swear by their Baby K’tans!

The stretchy wrap is a great addition to your newborn care routine, especially if you are practicing “fourth trimester” suggestions. The baby is snuggled in nice and warm, close to your heart- breathing you in and feeling your heartbeat. The baby is soothed by your gentle everyday motions- it feels like they are back in the womb! (Note: if you haven’t read Happiest Baby on the Block, do it! It was the most helpful book I read about newborns!)

I had a black Moby Wrap, and I really did love it. While I do reach for other carriers more frequently now, it was my absolute favorite when Hallelujah was small!

Here’s some things to think about if you are considering a stretchy wrap:

PROS

Very comfortable for longer stretches
Great for tiny babies- has a good “womb” feeling
Very elegant look- nice for church, weddings, etc
Very adjustable- wraps to your body size
Comes in variety of colors
Can be purchased in organic cotton
Fairly easy to take baby in and out
With practice, easy to nurse in

CONS

Stretchiness makes it more difficult to use as babies get bigger- don’t hold as well
Can be very overwhelming- takes practice to wrap quickly and properly
Not very portable- takes up a lot of room in diaper bag
Only a few holds that are appropriate for stretchy material
Not easily transferred to other caregivers- have to learn to wrap well first
Some may not feel completely secure- need to always keep hand on baby

On the whole, I highly suggest getting a stretchy wrap for the first few months of your baby’s life! They will love it, and so will you. Come back next week and see what my favorite long-wear carrier is- it’s my husband’s favorite, too!

Have you used a stretchy wrap before? How long did your baby enjoy it/ fit in it?

Babywearing Basics: The Ring Sling (Plus Umi Sling Review!)

Babywearing Basics: THE RING SLING feat. Umi Sling

Today’s post is the second installment in my “Babywearing Basics” series. You can find the rest of the series here.

There are several factors to consider when choosing a carrier to use for baby wearing. Each mother has different priorities: some value comfort over all else, others ease of use, still others value security of the child. Fortunately, there are so many different types of carriers, everyone can find one to suit their needs! I’m beginning this series with my new favorite, the RING SLING.

I have to admit, I was a little intimidated by ring slings at first. It’s my newest addition to my baby wearing collection, and I think it took the most getting used to, but boy is it worth it! The ring sling is basically one long and wide piece of fabric that is threaded between two rings and worn over one shoulder. The fabric creates a kind of “pocket seat” for the babe’s bum, and the fabric holds them snugly to you when you adjust the fit through the rings.

Babywearing Basics: THE RING SLING feat. Umi Sling

PROS:

  • Very comfortable for short durations.
  • Easy and comfortable to wear while seated- great for smaller babies in restaurants, church, etc
  • With practice, very easy to use. Baby can come in and out quickly and without help from someone else.
  • Stylish. Come in a variety of fabrics and prints and just generally look cool, being one shouldered and all.
  • Baby is snug and secure to mama.
  • Baby can be discreetly breastfed while in carrier- extra fabric can act as cover.

CONS:

  • Takes practice to get a good fit for you and baby that is both comfortable and secure.
  • Can become uncomfortable when worn for long periods because all weight is on one shoulder
  • Dads don’t love it to use for themselves, at least not mine- the one shouldered look tends to be a bit girly.

Probably my favorite thing about my ring sling is the amazing company that makes them. Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while know that one of my favorite things to do is introduce you to companies that provide a socially generous and responsible choice for items you might want to purchase, and this company is no exception! I have fallen in love not only with their products, but with their mission as well.

Today, I want to introduce you to UMI SLING, the labor of love of the wonderful Megan Kimmelshue of The Boho Mama. Umi Sling operates under a ‘one-for-one’ program- whenever you buy a sling for yourself or a loved one, another sling is sewn and sent to Papua New Guinea, where many of the children are malnourished because they are left at home during the day while their mothers work. When the mothers are provided with a sling, they can then carry their children (and, thus, feed them) while they work, which is significantly changing the health of the community!

umislinglogo

Megan’s friend, Adriel, works with women in a community development project in Papua New Guinea.  Adriel writes, “Athough leaving a supply of baby slings will not “solve” the problems in Bamio, it’s a practical, achievable part of the approach we can take in educating and equipping these dear women (and their husbands) in regards to the importance of maternal availability during the newborn and infant stages.” I love this honest approach to their work- aware that they may not be solving a long-term problem, but they can provide a short-term solution in the meantime. You can also read Adriel’s blog here.

Umi Slings are well-made, durable, single-layer ring slings made with the highest quality fabrics. I have their bestselling organic cotton chevron sling, and if I leave the house with the baby, this sling comes with me! The slings come in a variety of patterns and fabrics, including a lovely line of handprinted batiks made with fabric sourced from a women’s vocational training center in Ghana.  Umi Sling also just introduced a beautiful limited edition sling made with fair trade cotton from Guatemala!

On the whole, the ring sling is my absolute favorite carrier for everyday use- it looks pretty, it’s comfortable for myself and the baby, it’s easy to use, and the baby is secure. But I think what I like best is knowing that the sling is not only making my life easier, but it’s impacting the life of another baby in Papua New Guinea, too!

Disclaimer: I did receive a complimentary sling for the purpose of reviewing for this series. However, all opinions are my own!

Babywearing Basics

9 Reasons Why You Should Be Wearing Your Baby

Babywearing is, without a doubt, one of my favorite things about being a mother- and it’s a good thing I like it, because I swear it’s the only way I get anything done! While I was pregnant, my ‘baby accessory’ obsession was cloth diapers– I collected so many fun diapers for Halle and I always wanted more- but now, the obsession is baby carriers. I want them all- all kinds, all different designs, every style. It’s so much fun!

If you’re new to the concept of baby wearing, here’s the basics for you: rather than laying your baby down on a surface, in a contraption, or carrying them in their infant seat, you ‘wear them’ on you in a structured carrier, soft wrap, ring sling, or pouch instead. This has many, mane benefits for both mom and baby, including:

Better support of spinal development, neck, and core muscles for baby.

Rather than being squished into a curve shape in a car seat, the spine is upright and lengthened, and the baby learns gently to hold herself upright with proper supports.

Symmetrical development (when done correctly).

Torticollis and plagiocephaly are two newborn conditions that are on the rise, and both can be significantly decreased with proper baby wearing. All babies have a tendency to sleep or lie with their head to one side of the other, but some babies do this so much that the neck gets very stiff on the other side and, possibly, the skull forms incorrectly for a time. Reducing the amount of time baby spends on her back reduced the chances of these conditions. This story about treating torticollis through babywearing and exercises is a great read!

Bonding through extended close contact.

When baby wearing is done often, a strong bond is formed between mom and baby. Many moms (including myself) notice their their babies calm almost instantly when worn- and usually fall fast asleep, too!

Hormones stimulate consistent milk production.

The bond between mom and baby, coupled with the closeness of baby to the breasts, further strengthens the ‘brain to breast connection’, strengthening the letdown reflex and increasing your milk production.

Convenience for mom- you are hands-free holding your baby!

I can’t say it enough, this is the only way I get anything done. Dishes, housework, writing this blog- all done with sweet baby girl on my chest. Baby wearing at the grocery store saves me from filling my cart with a carseat, or worse- pushing a cart and a stroller. Baby wearing at church keeps baby cocooned with me and protected (somewhat) from germs. Also, infant seats are HEAVY! The list goes on…

More time to observe social interactions.

When a baby stays in a bouncer or an infant seat, they can really only observe what you place in front of them. In contrast, when a baby is worn, she is experiencing almost constant motion, and constantly changing scenery. She is able to observe conversation and social interactions at a very early age, which contributes to accelerated development later on.

Regulated body temperature.

When baby is very close to mom, the baby’s body temperature will regulate out to match the mother’s. This is also why skin-to-skin contact is stressed at birth, particularly among preemies.

Heightened immune function.

The baby receives both germs (through contact) and antibodies (through breastmilk) from mom, which allows her body to build up her immunity quickly and still maintain good health.

Reduced stress levels and crying time/frequency.

On the whole, babies that are worn frequently are more secure, calm, and cry less and less often. The attachment they feel to their mother allows them to experience other situations without fear- they know that it’s just a matter of time before they are back with mom!

There are many different kinds of carriers you can use for baby wearing, which I’ll be introducing to you in the next few weeks- along with some great, socially responsible companies that are changing the world through baby wearing!

Are you already a babywearing mama? What’s your favorite type of carrier? Tell me in the comments!